Houston Iraqi Refugee Arrested in Terror-Related Plot: Officials

Authorities said two people with ties to the Islamic State have been arrested on terrorism-related charges in California and Texas Thursday, including a refugee from Syria who is charged with lying to federal investigators about his travels to the civil war in that country.

Federal officials said 24-year-old Omar Faraj Al Hardan, a Palestinian born in Iraq, was arrested in Houston on Thursday. Meanwhile, a criminal complaint unsealed Thursday accuses a Sacramento man of traveling to Syria to fight alongside terrorist organizations and lying to investigators about it.

According to the federal indictment in Texas, Al Hardan has been charged with three counts alleging that he attempted to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), a designated foreign terrorist organization.

He is charged with one count each of attempting to provide material support to ISIS, procurement of citizenship or naturalization unlawfully and making false statements.

Federal authorities told NBC News that Al Hardan was allegedly trying to help get people in the U.S. to travel overseas and join a foreign terror organization.

There was no plot to carry out attacks in the U.S., one law enforcement official said. Another federal official said there was never any danger to people in the U.S.

An Iraqi refugee has been arrested in Houston as part of an investigation into an alleged terrorist plot, the Texas governor’s office confirmed Thursday.

Al Hardan is expected to appear in court Friday at 10 a.m. in Houston before U.S. Magistrate Judge John R. Froeschner.

He entered the United States as a refugee on or about Nov. 2, 2009. He was granted legal permanent residence status on or about Aug. 22, 2011, and resides in Houston, according to the indictment.

Al Hardan's arrest came to light after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's office released the following statement Thursday:

"I applaud the FBI for today's arrest of this dangerous subject. However, this is precisely why I called for a halt to refugees entering the U.S. from countries substantially controlled by terrorists," he said. "I once again urge the President to halt the resettlement of these refugees in the United States until there is an effective vetting process that will ensure refugees do not compromise the safety of Americans and Texans."

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said in a statement that the arrests may have prevented a terror-related event.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Sacramento said 23-year-old Aws Mohammed Younis Al-Jayab, an Iraqi citizen, was arrested Thursday morning in Sacramento. He is charged with making a false statement involving international terrorism.

Federal officials say the investigation in California led to the arrest of three of Al-Jayab's relatives in Wisconsin in a separate case.

Lauren Horwood, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Sacramento, said the arrest of three suspects Thursday in Milwaukee wasn't related to national security. FBI Milwaukee Division spokesman Leonard Peace said there was no threat to the public associated with the arrests.

Peace said the three haven't made an initial court appearance, which is expected Friday. They were not identified, and no further details were immediately available.

Al Hardan's Indictment

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Alhardan-Indictment (Text)
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